MOSCOW Feb 22 Russia's military has created a
force tasked with waging information warfare, Russian Defence
Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday, in a move likely to
heighten the West's concerns about what it sees as
Moscow-sponsored "fake news".
Russian military planners, like their counterparts
elsewhere, see the spreading of propaganda as a crucial part of
Moscow's activities in this area are under intense scrutiny
after U.S. intelligence agencies accused the Kremlin of mounting
an "influence operation" to help Donald Trump win the U.S.
presidential election last November.
European intelligence agencies have also said Moscow is
seeking to destabilise governments and influence elections in
Europe with cyber attacks and fake news. Moscow has denied
interfering in other countries' elections.
In an address to the State Duma, or lower house of
parliament, Shoigu said the new troops tasked with information
warfare are more potent and effective than those used in the
"Propaganda must be smart, competent and effective," the
TASS news agency quoted Shoigu as saying. It did not specify
when the troops were created.
Vladimir Shamanov, the head of the State Duma defence
committee, was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying that the
information operations troops have been "mainly created for the
protection of the interests of national defence and for
counter-activities in the information sphere".
"Essentially the information conflict is a component of
general conflict. Deriving from that, Russia has made an effort
to form structures that are engaged in this matter," he said.
Last week, General Petr Pavel, a Czech who heads NATO's
military committee, said that Russia was behind a false report
of a rape by German soldiers in Lithuania, warning that Europe
should expect more such "fake news".
Estonia's Foreign Minister Sven Mikser said he also expected
more "hostile propaganda" from Russia due to its anger over the
buildup of NATO forces in the Baltic republics near to its
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Christian Lowe and